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Walking in the shoes of others: Experimental testing of dual-interest and empathy in environmental choice

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Author Info

  • Czap, Natalia V.
  • Czap, Hans J.
  • Khachaturyan, Marianna
  • Lynne, Gary D.
  • Burbach, Mark
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    Abstract

    This paper further tests dual interest theory and the metaeconomics approach to environmental choice, recognizing a possible role for empathy–sympathy (the basis for an internalized, shared other-interest) in tempering and conditioning the more fundamental tendency to pursue self-interest. To test, we focus on rivers flowing through agricultural areas carrying sediments, chemicals, and fertilizers which are making their way into downstream rivers and lakes. We conduct a framed laboratory experiment modeling this problem: farmers decide on the usage of conservation technology to lessen impacts on the water quality (i.e. on the commons, the capacity to absorb these wastes) in downstream areas, which is more costly than the alternative intensive technology. The results confirm our hypotheses, demonstrating that Upstream Farmers who practice conservation are tempering profit maximization with empathy-based, environmentally conscious behavior. Such behavior better serves the farmers’ own-interest, and also helps Downstream Water Users. Environmental economics models need to explicitly include empathy–sympathy and the moral–ethical context it produces, providing a more scientific basis for conservation policy and programs.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

    Volume (Year): 41 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 5 ()
    Pages: 642-653

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:41:y:2012:i:5:p:642-653

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

    Related research

    Keywords: Dual-interest model; Metaeconomics; Empathy; Selfism; Environmental experiment; Water quality; Conservation policy;

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    Cited by:
    1. Sulemana, Iddisah & James, Harvey S., 2014. "Farmer identity, ethical attitudes and environmental practices," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 49-61.
    2. Beretti, Antoine & Figuières, Charles & Grolleau, Gilles, 2013. "Behavioral innovations: The missing capital in sustainable development?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 187-195.
    3. Ismael Rodriguez-Lara, 2013. "An Experimental Study of Gender Differences in Distributive Justice," Discussion Papers in Economic Behaviour 0213, University of Valencia, ERI-CES.

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